Japan Business Report 2018

Presented by

Discovery Reports

Japanese cuisine thrives with flavourful Marukome miso

Marukome is one of Japan’s leading manufacturers of fermented products such as miso and koji, and exports to 48 countries

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 May, 2018, 3:16pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 May, 2018, 3:16pm

[Country Business Reports interviews and articles by Discovery Reports]

Japanese cuisine can appear deceptively simple, but the healthy and exquisitely plated dishes pack explosive flavours and textures. From traditional washoku to more contemporary fare such as ramen, sushi and curry, the Japanese utilise fresh and seasonal ingredients to offer a veritable feast for the senses. Among the most essential components of Japanese cuisine that give dishes their distinct flavour is miso, and one company has been instrumental in elevating the use of this condiment since 1854: Marukome.

In Japan, Marukome is among the leading manufacturers of fermented products, particularly miso and koji. Since its establishment, Marukome has dedicated itself to catering to different consumer preferences, and this has driven the company to constantly pursue new ideas, methods and inventions that continue to excite the palates of even the most discerning gourmand.

“Consumer needs change every day, and we need to adjust to that. This is why we need to keep going. Banking on our heritage, we mix traditional know-how with new breakthroughs to always offer something new to the customers,” says the company’s president, Tokio Aoki.

With the miso products’ rich and earthy flavours, it is easy to see why Marukome has become a staple in many Japanese households. From raw ingredients to final inspection, Marukome ensures high quality in every step of the production.

Marukome has modernised the production of miso in its technologically advanced facility, but some products still ferment the ingredients in wooden barrels – made from Neba cedar that further enhances miso’s flavour profile. Its fermentation warehouse in the Miasa Highlands, located in Kitaazumi, Nagano prefecture, sits about 1,000 metres above sea level, making it the ideal location for cold-brewing miso.

We developed other products to make it easier for our customers to shorten cooking time
Tokio Aoki, president, Marukome

Once ready, Marukome packages the miso in convenient plastic packaging for easy use and storage. From producing miso paste, Marukome has expanded its offerings to include miso liquid, miso with soup stock, miso with dashi, miso with less sodium and instant miso soup, among others.

“We developed other products to make it easier for our customers to shorten cooking time. There are homemakers who simply do not have the time to meticulously prepare soup stock but still want delicious miso soup. We are among the first companies to address this need,” Aoki says.

Marukome even co-developed an organic miso powder line, in collaboration with Miranda Kerr. The organic powder line that was released in August last year comes in two variants: vegetable dashi stock and dashi stock.

For its miso products, Marukome uses its own rice koji. It is a type of fungus from the aspergillus genus that is considered by the company as Japan’s national bacteria and the key ingredient of Japanese condiments such as miso, soy sauce, sake, mirin and vinegar. Realising the untapped potential health benefits of koji, Marukome explored the development of koji-based products such as the fermented health drink “Amazake”, the fermented salted rice seasoning “Shio Koji”, and many more.

Marukome caters to the consumer segment as well as the food service industry. Just as it develops new products for consumers, Marukome also builds solutions for the food service industry, such as miso soup machines and dispensers. These dispensers are widely used across Japan and also gaining traction in the United States, Europe and even in Australia.

As Japanese cuisine is popular all over the globe, Marukome sees great opportunities in overseas markets. The company established a manufacturing facility in the US to cater to the growing market there, which accounts for 40 per cent of Marukome’s overseas sales. It also established offices in South Korea and Thailand to aid in handling the overseas exports to 48 countries.

“Our vision overseas is to deliver to the world the tasteful, authentic and healthy Marukome brand,” Aoki says.